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Mayor Dean Ball says Humber River’s eroding banks will continue to be a serious concern for Deer Lake

These homes on the banks of the Humber River were not far from being inundated with water from the dangerously high Humber River Wednesday.
These homes on the banks of the Humber River were not far from being inundated with water from the dangerously high Humber River Wednesday. - Gary Kean

Robin Sullivan isn’t worried his property will be flooded, but he is concerned about it remaining accessible.

Sullivan lives on Riverbank Road in Deer Lake, which was closed to all traffic other than local residents Wednesday.

The precaution had to be taken by the Town of Deer Lake after a section of the road dropped about six inches. It was another impact of the high water levels in the Humber River since last Saturday’s rain, mild temperatures and accompanying snowmelt.

“The water level is not as high as in some springs, but it’s not spring — it’s freezing,” said Sullivan as he watched ice and water steadily flow and gather at the mouth of the Humber River where it empties into Deer Lake.

The ice moving downstream has been stopping at the river’s mouth, forcing water to back up into the river and threaten homes and infrastructure on the banks.

“You don’t mind water running when it’s keeping on going, but this is backing up a lot,” said Sullivan.

He wasn’t immediately concerned Wednesday, but hoped the situation didn’t get worse.

“I’m not concerned about my property, but my access to it,” he said. “There are some back (roads), so it shouldn’t be too bad.”

Riverbank Road is technically a dead-end street, but there is access to the rest of town at the end of the road that involves using privately owned property. This access was being used Wednesday.

While Riverbank Road is concerning, the Town of Deer Lake was already turning its attention to Pinetree Drive, where the high water has been eroding the riverbank.

Utility poles on foundering ground had to be replaced there Tuesday, and crews were keeping a close eye on the situation there again Wednesday.

Mayor Dean Ball said further erosion at this location is inevitable, though the sandy riverbank seemed to have firmed up a little in the colder weather since last weekend’s storm.

“For certain, that ground is going,” said Ball. “I don’t think it’s a maybe. It’s just when. … The minute this temperature warms up, you’re going to see a lot more of an issue there with land sliding out into the river.”

Ball said the erosion of the riverbank is within six or seven feet of the road, and a decision will soon have to be made about limiting access to that unstable part of town.

The town had an engineer at the site to assess the situation Wednesday and was waiting on a report before deciding on a course of action.

Ball said a plan for an alternate exit from the dead-end street was already being worked on Wednesday.

Residents on the river were still being asked to be ready to evacuate Wednesday, despite the river dropping slightly. Ball said that decreasing trend would have to continue before the evacuation precaution could be lifted.

 

Gathering on Riverbank Road to watch the flooded Humber River flowing by was limited to local residents only after the Town of Deer Lake limited access to the area Wednesday.
Gathering on Riverbank Road to watch the flooded Humber River flowing by was limited to local residents only after the Town of Deer Lake limited access to the area Wednesday.

 

 

 

Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball said the Humber River’s water level dropped a bit Wednesday, but not enough as of deadline to lift a notice for affected residents to be prepared to evacuate.
Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball said the Humber River’s water level dropped a bit Wednesday, but not enough as of deadline to lift a notice for affected residents to be prepared to evacuate.

 

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